#Personal Stories

I Wore A “Revealing” Dress And Went Out Without Removing My Body Hair

removing body hair, underarm hair fashionable
Last weekend I tried to go out without shaving my legs or for that matter, any body hair. The dress I was wearing was deemed “too revealing” due to which, the thoughts I had before stepping outside the house were nothing but scary. I tried to dismantle my feminine consciousness as if I was making a statement not just to others but to myself too.

Filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky once said, “Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness”. Over time, I have grown to feel these words in my bones. It is as if they are engraved in my soul. It is my understanding that what caged birds do not realise is that flying is similar to being born again; and with birth comes the pain. Walking into the world with my body hair on display was like having a rebirth. The only thing I had to decide was whether or not this pain is worth it. 

For me, loving my body was not a challenge, ever. I have created a mental cocoon, protecting myself from all those factors that could possibly harm my opinion about my body, including the time when an ex called me skinny-pinny during our breakup.  But eventually, I realised that there is a difference between not hating your body and loving it. 

Not removing body hair: An individual choice

I cannot remember a single time when I saw a woman with body hair on television or anywhere else for that matter. When I was young I would think that women were born this way- hairless and smooth. But as I grew up, I realised that women were born with hair but accepted socially only when they appeared without them.

Wearing a one-piece and having body hair didn’t feel unnatural to me but there was a sensation of fear in my body. Maybe it came from imagining the looks people will give me (here my ‘I do not care about what people will think’ attitude took a backseat) or the feeling of constantly being stared at.

The woman in me gave into the ideology of, “You don’t feel ‘feminine’, you don’t feel like you.” I was thinking as if my rebellious act of not removing my body hair will be a tight slap on patriarchy’s face. But, that slap had ended on my own face somehow. People scanning you from top to bottom could make it difficult for you to even breathe. Soon I realised, it takes practice to develop love towards ones own body, that too, to an extent that hostile stares from strangers do not bother you at all. I had accepted by body hair, but I was yet to love it. Thus before confronting society, I had to first confront my own inhibitions and the relevance I gave to social gaze.

Stepping out with my body hair in full view was not an easy task. But I managed to get through the day, feeling unsettled in the beginning, but eventually growing comfortable in my own skin. Soon I learned to drown out those loud stares in self-love. Will I recommend this experience to other women? Only if they are willing to endure social scrutiny and spend a moment think through their own ideas about beauty and femininity first.

Views expressed are the author’s own. 

Suggested Reading: Tumhare Bhale Ke Lie Keh Rahe Hain: How Indian Parents Control Daughter’s Life